Qur'an Contradiction

The infinite loop problem

Sura 26:
192   It (the Qur'an) is indeed a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds,
193   with it came down the spirit of truth
194   Upon your heart so that you may be one of the warners
195   in clear Arabic speech
196   and indeed IT (the Qur'an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets).

A Muslim's comment (on the Islamic newsgroup) was: "YES! The Qur'an is IN them and they are complete IN the Qur'an. What does this tell you? They are identical!"

Now, I am not sure if how many Muslims hold to this opinion, but here are nevertheless two powerful self-contradictions in the verses 195-196.

One important reason for the revelation of the Qur'an in Arabic is that the earlier books were NOT in Arabic and therefore the Arabs could not understand them. Now even if the Qur'an and the earlier books are not identical [apart from translation in a different language] verse 196 does say that the Qur'an is contained in the earlier books.

Now we have the choice between two different lies in God's revelations. Either, because of verse 196, the verse "in clear Arabic speech" is contained in the earlier revelations. This is a lie, because they are not in Arabic.Therefore it cannot be in the earlier revelation. But then verse 196 becomes a lie in the Qur'an.

Maybe this situation can be saved by regarding "in clear Arabic speech" to be only belonging to "so that you (Muhammad) may be one of the warners" and NOT refering to the Qur'an (it) in verse 192. But then, what were the warnings of Muhammad in Arabic? The verses of the Qur'an...

But there are more such verses, for example 16:103 also claims that "this is Arabic pure and clear" which refers to the Qur'an without doubt.

But verse 196 is a jewel of contradiction just within itself. How many "earlier writings" were there? Finitely many or infinitely many? Have you ever written a computer program that went into an infinite loop? Well, you have before your very eyes a recursion without a condition for termination. And you are not allowed to change the program. Talk about the worst nightmare imaginable for a computer programmer.

Verse 196 is part of the Qur'an, and hence by its very statement also part of the earlier writings. Let say, it is in earlier writing A. Now, by the very same reason, there has to be an earlier writing B, containing this verse, and earlier writing C containing this verse, and .... without end and you need infinitely many earlier writings because you otherwise end up in the lie of verse 196 claiming to be contained in a non-existing earlier writing.

But infinitely many writings are physically impossible. Isn't that a most interesting contradiction / error / problem in just one verse?

But take heart, some of the best and most intelligent people have written programs with such errors. It is no shame for Muhammad to overlook that bug. The problem is not the bug, but that he decreed that nobody is allowed to correct the bugs. And since no provision was made to update and maintain the program, it sadly has to be abandoned. Nobody wants to be stuck in an infinite loop without being allowed to stop the program.

Verse 196 is indeed producing numerous problems. There are many things in the Qur'an which become utter non-sense if you imagine them to be in the Torah or the Gospel. The consequence would be that God gives foolish revelations and talks gibberish. This is obviously not true, so that we have to reject verse 196 as illogical.

Jochen Katz

Muslim Responses by Randy Desmond
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997

Simply put, when it says *it* is in the writings of the earlier prophets, it may be referring to the teachings of the Qur'an, a reference to the Qur'an, etc.

When we say something is *in* something else do we mean it is literally and completely in it?

"YOU are *in* trouble!"

Now do I mean YOU are somehow interrelated and a part of the concept trouble? Or do I mean the word "YOU" is a subset of the word "trouble"? Or is the meaning of "YOU" the same as "trouble"? Or have I told you *how* YOU are in trouble? No. Well in a similar manner, the author of the contradiction should not assume "it is in" means "it is". That is assuming one particular understanding of *how* it is in the writings of earlier prophets. A contradiction is not proven again. All praise is due to God.

Do we throw out the verse as illogical (that is what the contradiction's author proposes) or do we throw out the author(of the contradiction)'s analysis of the verse as illogical?

Feel free to personally throw whatever you want. The responding party does make invalid comparisons. Saying that I am in my room, then this means I am fully located inside this room, a physical entity. I am either in it or out. "Trouble" is not a location, it is a "state". Being "in trouble" means to face difficult circumstances. Now, the question is: Are the Torah and the Gospel (physical or at least clearly defined) entities or are they "states" or "circumstances"? If we want to ask whether a quotation, a paragraph, or a chapter is in certain book, then it either is or it is not. This is a clear-cut, black and white question. There is no need to confuse the issue with other uses of the word "in" [even taken from the English language when usually the emphasis is that we have to look to the Arabic!!]. The question is not other possible ways of using the word "in" in English, but what this sura means and if it makes sense. So far, I am aware of only one verse in the Qur'an that can be found more or less verbatim in the earlier revelation. Do you think that is enough to make this statement in Sura 26 true? What is "it"?

Contradictions in the Qur'an
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Last edited: January 9, 1997